1. Have you received specialised training in cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is a term that is broadly used by all dentists as it can range from a single white filling to a whole smile makeover. Whilst all dentists can do cosmetic dentistry which are white fillings and even white crowns, doing a whole mouth reconstruction or even a smile makeover involves more complex procedures that unless the dentist has been specially trained, are not taught in undergraduate university courses. In other words, dentists need to get special training on the latest materials, how to bond them, and materials to use and techniques that will give maximum aesthetics, strength and the results that you expect. Be aware also that there are different levels of training that can be obtained for these ranging from one day workshops, to more comprehensive courses run by the top cosmetic dentistry schools in the world.
2. Can you show me before and after cases that you have done that are similar to my case?
Before and after photos of your dentists work will give you an example of the results that may be obtained for your smile. It will help to prepare you for what to expect. Ask them specifically to show you before smiles similar to yourself and walk you through the process of what needs to be done to correct the problems. For example, if you have Crooked teeth, or Gummy smile, or Worn teeth, or broken down teeth, what options you have. If there are different ways of achieving a result as well, you should ask them to give you all your options available.
3. What Laboratories and Materials do you choose to create my smile?
The lab and materials your dentist chooses is critical to the success and result of your new smile. The lab, like the dentist should be trained in cosmetic dentistry as well, so that they can understand how to blend the necks of the veneers to the necks of the teeth so that you will never get that unsightly black line at the gum. They should also have an eye and attention to detail that is so much more than a perfect fit. They should have artistic talents that can recreate what is natural in a smile…….. characteristics like natural translucency, texture, light reflections, colour that blends perfectly with your other teeth so that the end result will leave everyone wondering what exactly you had done and why you look so amazing and happy!
4. How do you design my smile?
Depending on whether you want a whole new look or incorporate elements of your old smile, with the guidance of your dentist you should be a big part of choosing your new smile. There are so many different options to the styling of your smile to create the look that you want to portray. What shapes do you want your teeth? For example, more masculine smiles usually have squarer angles while feminine teeth are more rounded on the corners. Mature smiles are flatter while young smiles have more contour and different shapes. Your dentist should show you all the different shapes and styles that they can remodel your smile. The law of golden proportion in nature is also true for your smile. The dentist should be able to take measurements of your facial and teeth proportions to work out the right size and length if teeth for you. They should also look at the frame of your smile, that is, your lips, and your gums. Are your gum heights symmetrical from one side to the other? Does your smile slope one way or another? Does your midline of your smile line up with the midlines of your face? Does the shape of your smile follow your lower lip smile line? How many teeth do you show in your smile? Do you have a wide smile or a narrow smile? Do you show enough tooth? Are you too gummy? Do your teeth angle or slope the right way? These are just a few of the considerations that should be looked at when designing your new smile.
5. Do I get to see what results I get before I decide?
Most people are concerned that they may not like the result or they cannot picture what it would look like and are afraid of being disappointed. A mock up with the smile that you and your dentist have designed can be one directly onto models of your mouth so that you can see how it looks on your own model. If you like them and want to go on, the next stage of trial then becomes the mock up as temporaries in your mouth in a resin form at this stage. Then you can truly see how your new smile sits in relation to your lips and smile lines, the length, your speech, the symmetry, proportion and make any further adjustments required until it is perfect. Only at this stage the final restorations can be constructed with absolute clarity and the results will be accurate, precise and exactly what you expect.
6. How long will my smile last, and are your results guaranteed?
There are many factors that affect the longevity of your smile. Biological factors such as diet and decay can still affect the teeth under cosmetic dentistry. Grinding or clenching, if this has worn your natural teeth down, can also damage your new smile. These are factors that should be discussed in your diagnosis appointment as risk factors and your dentist will need to address how to protect your new smile from these destructive forces. Staining will not affect your new smile as porcelain does not stain, but your natural teeth will, so keeping your smile looking fresh and clean will also require some level of maintenance. Not to mention, last but not least, you will need to maintain the foundations of your new smile, which are healthy gums beneath, with regular scale and cleans. Other factors that can determine longevity include the materials your smile is made of, the bonding techniques employed, the precision to which these are carried out with. Some manufacturers guarantee their crowns for 5 years from mechanical failure. Ask what the average success rate of your dentist is with such treatments. Current research shows that cosmetic treatments will last between 12 and 15 years.
7. Will my new smile affect my speech or eating?
Dentists who do a lot of cosmetics will know that certain cases will experience greater changes than others. Generally we find that the majority of the patients have no trouble or change in their speech. Most experience an improvement in their eating as the new smile is made to fit the opposing teeth perfectly where they may have been not aligned or broken down previously, provided that maintaining your bite is managed well by the dentist. Generally the people who have gaps closed up may have to learn to articulate S sounds differently without the gaps. People who have“F”and“V”difficulties usually mean that their teeth are too long and need to be adjusted in the trial mock up stage. Lisps are usually formed when the teeth are too thick. Ensure that your dentist knows how to correct these problems so that you do not have to live with them.
8. How will I look in the interim period while my new smile is being made?
Ask your dentist if your temporaries will mimic your final smile in shape size and colour so it gives you peace of mind that you do not have to hide away for three weeks, but, more importantly that it gives you a good guide as to what to expect in your final smile so you know exactly what results to expect and there will be no nasty surprises at the end. The temporaries should allow you to assess and correct any issues such as speech changes, length, smile line, symmetry, canting, shape, size, and most importantly, whether you love your new smile or you want to make any changes.
9. Do you have to cut my teeth down?
There are so many types of treatments to deal with different problems. These range from snap on smiles which are completely noninvasive, to full crowns or implants and surgery, and everything in between. Make sure your dentist goes over all the options that are available and the results you can expect, together with the treatment required and the risks involved so that you can make the best informed decision for yourself. For smile makeovers, ask about snap on smiles, lumineers, porcelain veneers, or crowns. For missing teeth, ask about implants vs bridges. For crooked teeth ask about traditional braces vs invisible braces or Invisalign. For gummy smiles, ask if they do laser gum lifting vs traditional surgery.
10.How can I make my treatment more comfortable? I am scared.
Most people fear dental treatment especially major treatment such as a smile makeover. There are ways of getting your smile done while being blissfully unaware. There are anaesthetists that work with dentists to provide sedation so patients do not need to sit through lengthy appointments and all of their treatment can usually be carried out in two visits.
11. How much will it cost?
Price is important, make sure you compare apples for apples. Take into consideration the training of your dentist and their team, the level of experience and expertise, the dental artisans they use (beware of cheap overseas imitations), their guarantee, the results that they can get for you.